Women’s League Reads

You are invited to join Women’s League Reads, a worldwide conversation about books of interest to today’s Jewish women.  Women’s League Reads is a moderated online discussion group, via Google Groups, for members of Women’s League in which everyone is invited to post comments, ask questions and make observations about the book.

Membership in Women’s League Reads is open only to members in good standing of Women’s League-affiliated sisterhoods or to individual members who have paid dues directly to Women’s League. You may subscribe to by contacting Lois Silverman, Internet Services Chair, at lsilverman@wlcj.org, with your e-mail address, sisterhood name/town/state, or individual member information, and thereby join the online group for book news and discussions. For other questions and comments, contact Vivian Leber at vleber@wlcj.org.

Check out more book recommendations from our members on Book Corner, now updated for 2019!

Find even more previous Book Club picks and study guides here!

We are pleased to announce that The Flight Portfolioa historical novel set in 1940 in occupied France, will be the next featured selection of Women’s League Reads. Members are invited to our Live-Interview with the author, Julie Orringer, on Monday, November 18, 2019, at 12 Noon, EST.  (Instructions to join the Zoom conference call will be sent in advance. The interview will be recorded.)

A surprising Holocaust hero, Varian Fry, isn’t well known, although he has left a memoir, had a biographer, and was the first American to be recognized by Yad Vashem as a “Righteous Gentile.” He is credited with saving more than 1,000 lives. With vivid characters and cloak-and-dagger plot twists, the novel relates Fry’s mission, as agent for the U.S-based Emergency Rescue Committee, to find safe passage for important Jewish artists and philosophers who have fled Germany or Poland to occupied France, yet remain under imminent threat of handoff by the Vichy regime to the Nazis.

Fry shelters a group of artists at a run-down villa near Marseille, and plans the flight to safety of Marc and Bella Chagall, Hannah Arendt, and hundreds more on his “list” by bribing, counterfeiting, and plotting for their escapes through Spain or Lisbon to distant ports. The young Fry, age 32, must contend with some who are reluctant to be saved, making the risky bet that their fame will protect them – and with the U.S. State Department, which, save for one rogue official, is at odds with Fry and resists granting visas to those who need to enter. Resourceful “real” figures such as Peggy Guggenheim help through their wealth and connections, and his motley crew of clever staff and allies outsmart the French, the Nazis, and the U.S. government, while tragically losing a few clients. Many of the female characters who aid and abet him, mostly real historic figures, are terrifically clever and outspoken.

Within the larger drama are internal struggles: Fry as a closeted and married gay man (the author’s educated guess) is pictured in a fraught romantic relationship. Fry also is challenged to admit to the moral ambiguity of his rescue mission, which ranks people as worthy of being saved as correlated to their perceived brilliance and fame.

The novel, published by Knopf in May 2019, is 575 pages in hardcover, and available in e-reader and audible formats.

Ms Orringer is an oft-awarded writer of short stories and a prior Holocaust-themed novel, The Invisible Bridge, a New York Times best-seller.

WL Reads is a member-benefit program of Women’s League. Those who have joined the group will receive directions for the Live Interview several weeks ahead. To join, write to Lois Silverman at lsilverman@wlcj.org with your Sisterhood name or individual WLCJ member ID.

For other questions and comments, contact Vivian Leber at vleber@wlcj.org.

Conversations with the chosen authors and scholars:

  • To listen to our conversation with Michael David Lukas, author of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, click here. Watch the interview on YouTube here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Gateway to the Moon author Mary Morris, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Odessa, Odessa author Barbara Artson, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with If All the Seas Were Ink author Ilana Kurshan, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, author of Waking Lions, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Dara Horn, author of Eternal Life, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Inkclick here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Jennifer S. Brown, author of Modern Girls, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Deborah Tannen, author of You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Betsy Lerner, author of The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir, click here.
  • To listen to our inter-generational conversation with Erica Perl, author of When Life Gives You OJ, click here.
  • To listen to our cooking lesson with Mollie Katzen, author of The Moosewood Cookbookclick here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Lauren Belfer, author of And After the Fire, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Sarit Yishai-Levi, author of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Joy Ladin, author of Through the Door of Life:  A Jewish Journey Between Genders, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Phyllis Chesler, author of An American Bride in Kabul, click here.
  • To listen to our conversation with Gina Nahai, author of The Luminous Heart of Jonah S, click here.
  • To listen to our interactive, inter-generational program for Sydney Taylor’s All of a Kind Family, click here.

To join Women’s League Reads, click here. Include your name, email, sisterhood, or notice that you are an individual member of Women’s League (not a member of a sisterhood). In addition to reading together, we look forward to sharing some exciting benefits of participation in this group.